Come sit by my side; I want to tell you a story about a girl. This girl, standing deliberately far from view, peeking at you sheepishly, hesitantly. Or so you would think. You see, I was once a very headstrong child. Adorable, as you can, no doubt, discern for yourselves, but strong-willed as all get out. Once I discovered I could think things out for myself, it was pretty much over.
I was a typically over-inquisitive child. Knowing a fact was simply never enough. I had to deconstruct piece by piece, climb inside, turn it over, rip it inside out, pop open the seams, sit down in the middle and analyze everything. Fiber by fiber. Painstaking compilation of an overwhelming array of fact and inconsequential trivia. It was not enough to know what if I could not answer in full detail the who, when, where, why, or how. It wasn’t enough to see a tapestry in its finished state; I had to see its creation unfold right from the beginning.
There was never an end to my questions. Every answer always yielded “just one more” why. Until the responder would give up on my curiosity and simply leave things unanswered. So I learned to search out my own answers, and not always in the quietest, cleanest way. When I was told no but not why, I did things to discover why not. To the silliest, most unimportant things. I couldn’t help it; I was driven by something unseen, and forward I went.
I must have been a difficult child to handle. This must be why you left us there. Maybe it was me, the last one born, that upset the natural order of things. Did I annoy you with my curiosity? Did I rob you of some false sense of peace you tried to brandish about? Was I not good enough? Was I too loud, too unruly, or just a plain spoiled rotten child who had to have her way? I was none of these things, yet still you did this. And I could not understand. Ergo, I tried in vain to find my flaw that led you to leave me. It was too much thinking for a girl her age. Too much carrying a burden on her shoulders that you should not have dumped there. It was cruel of you to do this, and you would not ever acknowledge this fact. You were oblivious to me, and I became inconsequential. I would later struggle to win your approval, but no matter what I did, it would never come. It just wasn’t to be.
I tried to excel at everything and failed to meet minimum in anything all at once. Other people took note of things I did, but you did not. Other people praised me, but you did not. In fact, you belittled what I did not do, and minimized the things I achieved. So I chased after more, yet your approval eluded me. In response, I would chase even more, and you moved that bar too high for me to reach.
So I withdrew into the shell that became my comfort zone. I hid myself away, because I learned early on that people always leave. Especially those who should always remain. There could be no vulnerability, no trust, no complete picture of who I was and would become. It is an impossible struggle: fighting the human need for love yet purposefully building walls to keep it out. I became a pro at fortification. And years went by where this craftily erected monument to isolation and mistrust saw no challenge, small or large. It stood victorious in the face of those who thought they had become more than they really were.
Yet I craved someone to come along who could break through and destroy those walls, someone who could make me believe that trusting someone with my vulnerability was not only possible but could also bring strength that I was lacking. That all the drive and effort to guard myself was unnecessary and I could take a deep breath and finally feel safe to be… me. Not the me that everyone wanted me to be. The person inside who was suffocating under the weight of it all and just could not seem to get the gasp of air she so desperately needed.
That was until Kerwyn came along. And all at once, I awoke unexpectedly to a breach in the wall and the most amazing thing: for him, not only was the wall laid to waste, it was eradicated completely, as though it was never there. My quirks oozed forth without chastisement, without criticism. Kerwyn supported me, encouraged me, and helped me find myself, even if I never actually came out and told him this. Once I had this, it no longer mattered to me why it took so long. All I cared about was that it finally did, and I never regretted that I found myself through him.
Not even when I thought I had lost him, and I found myself entwined and entangled with the Devil himself. I could not control how, in so many ways, big and small, Kerwyn’s previous presence in and influence on my life continued to manifest itself long after Kevin thought he stripped away everything good and meaningful from my heart. While I may have been forced for my safety to keep this penned up and largely silent outside, inside my head, I was free to reflect on Kerwyn’s kindness and compassion as I saw fit. In fact, it was when Kevin’s abuse of me was spiraling out of control, I would wander uncontrollably to this part of my life to escape when things were too hard to look in the face.
Fittingly related to this, yesterday, on the six month anniversary of my new-found freedom from Kevin, I found myself practically bursting open from the inside in appreciation and gratitude for so much, including Kerwyn. How when I first contacted him out of the blue in December and I heard his voice on the other end of the line, everything came rushing back and overwhelmed me.
How I am filled with immeasurable respect, affection, and awe at the strength, compassion, patience, kindness, and love he has displayed despite all I have thrown at him. Regardless of how low I felt or how horrible the things I revealed to him about the pain I suffered with Kevin, Kerwyn never criticized or corrected me, never brushed me off or refused to let me say what I felt I needed to say. I can’t imagine how it must have felt for him to hear these detestable, painful things, or what images of me he may have stuck against his will in his mind. There is not one part of me that does not wish I could have avoided subjecting him to this, but I wanted him to understand the reasons why behind things that may seem neurotic and inappropriate, or just straight up odd. So he wouldn’t misunderstand my actions or lose faith in me. Perhaps even more than these, that he wouldn’t question himself.
And I have also been recounting how much life has changed within the past six months. Things that so many people take for granted in their daily lives have the biggest meaning to those of us who have survived domestic violence. From being able to go out for lunch with the girls as I please to simply being able to get up and walk away from my desk at work without having to worry about whether or not he called or his resulting interrogation. From being able to wear makeup to not having to worry about what numbers are saved in my contact list in my phone.
Most importantly, the spiritual progress that Kevin would go to some length to deter and prevent has been allowed to flourished unhindered, with every support and encouragement from Kerwyn. I have finally come full circle and have unending appreciation for all I have been able to accomplish. In some ways, I feel almost greedy, because I have received so much from Jehovah that I can never repay. Whatever I asked, He provided, above and beyond what I prayed for. I feel privileged to be able to worship and serve him, especially with the brothers and sisters in my congregation.
My heart is full, and I am blessed. There are no lingering doubts, and although some fears or insecurity surrounding my experiences with Kevin remain (I have bad dreams about things I endured about this time of the month), I have found my peace. I have found strength, hope, dignity, and respect.
Smiles, laughter, and love: this is the story of girl.